Wednesday 19 July 2017

Milton Road Plans - An Act of Violence.

So we've got new, updated plans for Milton Road in Cambridge.

As part of Greater Cambridge (re-branded from the toxic 'City Deal' but rapidly falling to the same level of disrepute again), they're wanting to dig it up and make it better. And they're promising everything to everyone - bus lanes, car lanes, cycle lanes, trees. The last plan sucked.

And it won't all fit, but I gather they've approved it anyway.

Camcycle have already done us a pretty good, but far too nice description of the state of play. No point covering the same ground but I will say, stop being so bloody nice. No one else is being reasonable, bat for the BEST outcome for cyclists AND ONLY THAT. Your collaboration with residents associations is great, but I rather feel that in a cavalcade of niceness the simple 'thats just not good enough' message is rather hard to find.

But a few thoughts about the scheme. I think this is best done with some pictures:

In diagramatic form...
So on the Left there we've got lovely lollypop like trees. I say lollypop like because that does seem to be how urban planners see trees - they're jolly green things on top on little sticks. That verge those trees are in is projected to be 1m wide. So thats a tree canopy that can extend 50cm before buses, cars and lorries clip it back - or in other words it can neither be a reasonable sized tree that can grow to adulthood, nor can it indeed take on any symmetrical shape at all. Its also right on the edge of the road and very vulnerable to damage by any cars that come off road and, frankly, it hasn't a hope of ever attaining a decent trunk width. That tree, for that location, offering any ecological or aesthetic value, is a big ask. That tree looking like THAT in this location is entirely impossible. Look at the second picture there. Look at the comically narrow bus they've drawn hard up against the opposite side of the lane - and look at how tiny the young tree there is and indeed how far over its planted. This is silly.

And look at the top picture again - look towards the right. Do you see that? Do you? Yes, thats right, a pencil thin cycle lane next to the bus lane. I know, I wound't fit in it either, but thats ok, I'll ride on the bus lane. Kids and less confident cyclists? Oh, the'll be bullied off the road by this tremendously hostile facility.

But it gets worse, here's what it looks like towards Mitchams Corner:

So they're squeezing us into the parked car door zone and if we swerve we'll be killed by a bus? Well isn't that spiffing.

Look, here's a rather sarcastic but entirely accurate appraisal:

There is, physically, not room for two lorries and a bus to pass there - we can't fit that in with a cycle lane too. It comes down to this - the trees have to go, the bus lane has to go, or the cycle lane has to go. They've approved this conceptually. But. It. Does. Not. Fit.

The cycle facility proposed isn't just bad, its hostile - if you build a bike lane in a car door zone with bus drivers expecting to pass at speed then you're risking killing them. The roundabour re-design remains hazardous and will not reduce cyclist injury rate there (its a black spot). And the supposed 'segregated' cycle lane mostly isn't, in the sense any cycle campaigner would describe.

This isn't a model for road building, its an act of violence against cyclists, and against the residents of Milton Road. Councillors voting for this have been suckered into a myth, what we're looking at here isn't deliverable - to make this work something has to give. All for what? Oh, yes. According to City Deal 'up to four minutes on a bus trip'. Yes, thats right, that is JUST like an 'up to 40mb' internet speed claim. Its a nebulous, hand wavey, vague promise to save an indeterminate (but very small) amount of time, at the expense of a better treescape and high quality cycle facilities. Lets be very clear - this isn't a poor cycle facility because it can't be delivered, its a crap facility because they want it to be a crap facility.

And thats precisely what we've come to expect of City Deal. 

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